Tiananmen Square is not just your ordinary park. It is replete with history, history that shook not only China but the whole world. Tiananmen Square (which literally means 'Gate of Heavenly Peace') sits right at the heart of the city of Beijing and is an important tourist spot. Built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty, it was the site where ceremonies of state were celebrated. Here, emperors made their important pronouncements and edicts before the people of China.
The area was originally smaller, but it was enlarged to its current size in 1949. It now has an area of 440,000 square meters, which makes it the largest open-air urban square in the world. The square is a relaxing place. Its flower-filled gardens and wide-open spaces are ideal for flying kites, taking a walk, or just relaxing with loved ones and friends.
There are just so many things you can see at Tiananmen Square! There is the Tiananmen Tower, the Great Hall of the People, the Monument to the People's Heroes, and the Mao Zedong Memorial. The square is also the gateway to the Forbidden City.
The Tiananmen Tower was erected in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty. No one was allowed inside the Tower except for the royal family and nobility. This went on until 1911 when the last feudal kingdom ended.
Another important building in Tiananmen Square is the Great Hall of the People. It was used as a meeting place for political and diplomatic affairs. Constructed in 1959, it includes a Central Hall, a Banqueting Hall and the Great Auditorium. Across the Great Hall on the east side of the square stands the China National Museum. This building holds both the Chinese Revolutionary Museum and Chinese History Museum. The Chinese Revolutionary Museum features the growth and development of the history of China during modern times. Meanwhile, the Chinese History Museum features China's ancient history. It contains artifacts spanning close to 2 million years, starting from before the Chinese civilization's foundation until 1921 (the year the last emperor left the throne).
At the center of Tiananmen Square, you can see the Monument to the People's Heroes, which is prominently composed of a 38-meter obelisk surrounded by huge granite sculptures. It was built in honor of the men and women who gave their lives for the revolutionary struggle that was figured in China's history during the 19th and 20th centuries. The sculptures are surrounded by white marble railings. Chairman Mao had the monument (the largest of its kind in the whole of China) built in 1952.
A memorial hall dedicated to Chairman Mao stands at the south of the Square. The Mao Zedong Memorial Hall was completed in May 1977. The memorial houses the Mourning Hall (where the Chairman, dressed in his signature gray suit, lies in a crystal coffin), the Northern Hall (which has a tapestry of the landscape of China, plus a white marble statue of the Chairman), and the Southern Hall (where you can read his poems). The hall is open Tuesdays to Sundays. During July and August, it opens only in the morning.
Another must-see spot in Tiananmen Square is the raising of the Five Star Red Flag, the Chinese national flag. PLA soldiers raise the flag at sunrise and lower it at sunset every day. Come to the square early (before sunrise) so that you make sure you get a good vantage point. There is quite a crowd gathered at the square to watch this event every morning.
Tiananmen Square holds a lot of historical significance. This is where Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China's establishment on October 1, 1949. There are also yearly military parades and displays. The square was also a site for many a rally and protest movements. Sadly commemorated was the students' protest in 1989, which unfortunately resulted in the deaths of protesters by the regime.